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Pope Benedict XVI decries ‘destructive’ aspects of media, internet

March 9, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI has appealed to media leaders around the world to safeguard children and families and decried the “destructive” influences exerted by television and internet. He also expressed concern over multinational monopolization of media.

“I appeal again to the leaders of the media industry to advise producers to safeguard the common good, to uphold the truth, to protect individual human dignity and promote respect for the needs of the family,” the Pontiff told the Plenary Assembly on Social Communications at the Vatican on March 9, 2007. The Pope spoke in English.

“On the one hand, undoubtedly, much of great benefit to civilization is contributed by the various components of the mass media,” the Pope said. “On the other hand, it is also readily apparent that much of what is transmitted in various forms to the homes of millions of families around the world is destructive.”

The Pontiff pointed out the “pervasive role in shaping culture” that the media have, while noting the “demise” of traditional media and the rise of electronic media that are controlled by “a few multinational conglomerates whose influence crosses all social and cultural boundaries.”

Strategies for using new technology to communicate the Gospel message and for counteracting the negative impact of the media dominated the assembly held from March 5 to 9, 2007.

US Archbishop John P Foley said the Catholic Church must fulfill its responsibility to share with all people “the message of their origin in God, their destiny with him in heaven and their redemption in Jesus Christ.”

The problem, he said, is that the message of salvation “must compete with thousands of other messages – messages that perhaps appear immediately more appealing or more tempting.”

Sister Judith Zoebelein, from the United States, who works in the Vatican’s internet office, said the Church must expand its presence on the internet. But it must do so in a way that helps lead people from a “virtual” experience of faith and community to a personal encounter with the Lord and participation in a parish.

The Vatican's website has helped people who were already part of a real community connect in a virtual community with the Vatican, accessing documents and even sending e-mail greetings to the Pope, Sister Judith Zoebelein said.

The next step must be using the internet to reach those who are not part of any concrete community, she said.

In an attempt to ensure that an internet search of things that are Catholic leads to finding a real experience of the Church, the Vatican's internet office is running a trial e-learning site, Sister Zoebelein said.






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